Following the Rules: A Story

From here:

Two Buddhist Monks were on a journey, one was a senior monk, the other a junior monk. During their journey they approached a raging river and on the river bank stood a young lady. She was clearly concerned about how she would get to the other side of the river without drowning.

The junior monk walked straight past her without giving it a thought and he crossed the river. The senior monk picked up the woman and carried her across the river. He placed her down, they parted ways with woman and on they went with the journey.

As the journey went on, the senior monk could see some concern on the junior monk's mind, he asked what was wrong. The junior monk replied, "how could you carry her like that? You know we can't touch women, it's against our way of life". The senior monk answered, "I left the woman at the rivers edge a long way back, why are you still carrying her?"

The moral of that buddhist monk story: The senior monk had broken rules but for good reason. Once the purpose was fulfilled he put her down and continued on. He never gave it a further thought. The junior monk however did not touch the woman but he had brought up the actions of the senior monk when it was an action of the past. Therefore the junior monk was carrying the burden of what the senior monk had done as emotional baggage.


  1. You probably won't approve this, but maybe you'll still read it and start to see some potential issues with your position, or at least the examples you pick. Anyway...


    That's not the moral I got from the story.

    The moral I got was: Wow, the senior monk sure sucks at describing the generating function ("rules") for his actions. Maybe he doesn't really understand it himself?

  2. Well, if I had a silly mechanical view of human nature and thought peoples' actions came from a "generating function", I would think this was a problem.

  3. Silas, you only got through one post without becoming an unbearable douche this time.

    You had seemed to be improving.

  4. Anonymous10:36 PM

    "You know we can't touch women, it's against OUR way of life."

    I don't call something a rule of morality unless it applies to all people in all cultures. Do you?

    I would call this Buddhist rule a mere social convention or a taboo. It's similar to a rule calling for people to be chaste. What are your thoughts?


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